My company was closed on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and I enjoyed an extra day of rest and relaxation. Coming back to work yesterday was busy, but I got through it. One thing that I’ve been dealing with lately is a difficult situation with someone I work with. It’s not a close colleague but it is someone I work with on a regular basis, and this particular situation is putting a lot of pressure on me. I want to talk about how I’ve been handling it.

On Friday afternoon, right before I left for the long weekend, I was faced with a situation in which I had to remain the voice of reason. Without going into too much detail, I had to explain a work situation to a person who had misunderstood something I had said via email. I immediately received a phone call and, though there wasn’t yelling, there was a lot of frustration coming from my receiver. First, I took a few deep breaths (one of my strengths in dealing with people is that I tend to remain calm under pressure). Then, I calmly explained what was going on and what I expected from this person. I think my tone did wonders for the conversation–the person immediately calmed down and thanked me for my time and patience.

Yesterday afternoon, I was faced with a very similar situation with the same person. We were on a group call with several people and, once again, I had to speak calmly and explain the situation. I took the moment in hand and let everyone know, through my tone and the information I provided, that I was in control. Everyone thanked me and we moved on to another topic.

Based on these and other situations I’ve been in that required delicate handling, I’ve learned two important lessons: One is to not get caught up in the frustration of the moment. I know that it would be easy for me to just let go and maybe get a little short with this person, but most of the time they just misunderstood the problem at hand. Nine times out of 10, it is not a code red and there is a simple answer–all I need to do is find that answer and provide it. Second is to always be courteous and polite to the person you’re speaking to, even if that person gets out of hand. I have every right to ask someone to stop talking to me in a particular way, but luckily things have never escalated to that level. Usually, a calming voice and demeanor fixes a lot of things. Also, having correct information and maybe a suggestion or two for how to handle things doesn’t hurt either!

What about you, readers? Have you ever had to deal with a particularly sticky situation at work or in another area of your life and needed to remain calm? How did you handle it?